Myths, Monsters & Mayhem – The New Champion of Horror, Sci-fi & Fantasy

by Faizan Ahmed

The Pandemic Era shifted our livelihoods, causing many of us to stay home for longer than we would have liked. Covid, the new World Heavyweight Champion, reigned supreme with no clear end in sight. But in that time, and after lots of introspection, Zoom calls and head scratching, the world started turning. The minds of 2021’s Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy class started churning those old rusty cogs again to do what we love. To write.

It is my honour to be a part of such a tenacious bunch, and to have personally designed the cover and name for our star-studded project. The online poll held for the anthology’s name was an exciting contest I knew I couldn’t miss out on. I studied previous anthologies in the series, like Wizards, Werewolves & Weird Engines and Robots, Rogues & Revenants, and knew that alliteration had to be carried forward. But the theme? My featured story explores the Islamic myth of Jinn, a human-like race only invisible and made of fire. It was from this idea that I wanted to capture the eeriness and fear I had of them as a child, which led to the inspiration of the name. A race of invisible monsters, causing chaos without us ever knowing… aha! Myths, Monsters & Mayhem!

(Faizan’s winning cover design)

Before designing the book cover, I had no experience in digital drawing, except in editing existing works. I wanted to create something that carried the tradition of the previous covers, whilst adding my own artistic flair to it. I was playing games such as the action-adventure hit Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and had recently gotten into the Islamic-historical series Resurrection Ertugrul, so I wanted to see if I could combine the barbaric Vikings from the game and mountainous, tribal landscape from the series. Hence, I hand-drew the mountain backdrop, with waves crashing over it symbolising chaos. The warriors dotting the cover were an homage to the stories featured, and the intimidating demon on the left was a nod to the Jinn. When learning of our plan to donate to NHS Charities Together, I knew I wanted the wash of blue from the waves to be more apparent, so I added the blue magic graphic to the eyes and hands of the warriors on the cover as a tribute. The cover of this anthology was a new venture for me, as were many of the stories for the writers. But life is about taking those leaps, and when you have the courage to do so, you share those spoils with the world.

We bring to you explorations of myths, tales of grotesquely intriguing monsters and fragments of absolute mayhem. From the kingdoms of ancients to facing fears, you are in for thrills and chills like no other. Gear up for a collection of provocative madness.

(our book in the Top 5 hot new releases on Amazon!)

Myths, Monsters and Mayhem is the perfect jolt you need right now, whether that be a spark of creativity for a dormant idea or an actual jolt of fright. Oh yes, this isn’t a book by the beach. Welcome to the world of mighty fights, strange encounters and gruelling, gripping tests. All fun times, I assure you. Each story ignites something different in you, and with each of our champion writers showcasing their finest works to date, your eyes will be racing page to page for more.

The world may not be completely back to normal just yet but, for a moment, join our world where fantasies are realised. Smile, laugh and cry with us as you explore this stellar book we’ve had so much joy in creating. We hope this anthology, and our previous anthologies, inspire you like they have inspired us. Who knows, maybe there’s a writer in you, impatiently waiting to burst through with myths, monsters and mayhem of your own?

Having lived abroad for 8 years, Faizan Ahmed had the pleasure of experiencing a myriad of cultures. Faizan is an aspiring Game Designer and Creative Writer. Enthused with a passion for wrestling, superheroes and historical fiction, he channels his experiences to create compelling content for a variety of media outlets. Follow his journey to become a WWE Wrestler on Instagram: @sher.khan.official and catch the latest in his life: @ahmedfaizan68

The Brunel Writer Prize 2021

Every year, The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student with the highest graded article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing Programme. This year’s winner is Gatlin Perrin whose article offers some insightful tips on navigating uni. Congratulations Gatlin!

From Freshers to Final Year: How to Do University

by Gatlin Perrin

Getting through university is difficult, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Wherever you’re at with your uni journey, here are fourteen no-nonsense tips and tricks for getting from Freshers to final year with the majority of your limbs intact.

Good luck.

1. There is a room on the second floor of the library filled with study cubicles. This is the perfect place on campus to cry. Don’t ask me how I know this.

2. On the third floor of the library is the mental wellbeing centre, where you can ask for counselling. They also give out free stress balls, which can be used as projectiles if you prefer a more violent approach to problem solving.

3. Some people will tell you that you’ll make friends for life during Freshers Week, and those people deserve to be punched in the face for causing unnecessary stress. That group over there who are all laughing and hugging aren’t “friends for life”, they’re drunk. You will find friends when you find them.

4. If you live in halls, remember – everyone has their own idea of what “sharing” is. The statement “help yourself to anything in my fridge” is a grenade that’s just had the pin removed. Padlock everything. P.S., everyone also has their own idea of what “clean” is, so get ready to discover at least seventeen different species of mould on a dinner plate.

5. Mind your own business. If I’m not judging you for only having attended one lecture the entire year, you don’t judge me for literally crying with relief when a lecturer tells me my assignment wasn’t awful. This is a no judgement zone.

6. When in second year, do not compare yourself to the first years. They’ll always seem more talented, more composed and somehow better looking than your year. Try not to take it personally.

7. When in third year, do not compare yourself to the previous third years. They also had no idea what they were doing, they just hid it better.

8. Buy a dictionary. This is because whatever year you happen to be in, none of the words on the assignment brief will ever start to make sense.

9. Kidneys go for an average of around £5000 on the black market. You can survive with just the one but you’ll need at least six if you keep doing your weekly shop at Sainsbury’s. Lidl is your friend.

10. Third years, buy an umbrella. This is because as soon as you enter your final year you will notice the vast storm cloud of “life after graduation” approaching in the distance. It’s coming faster than you think.

11. In that vein, if anyone asks you what your career plans are for after graduation you are required by law to push them down the stairs. Refer back to tip five.

12. Having mental health issues at university is like contracting an STI: more people have them than you think, you shouldn’t be ashamed but you still need to do something about them before they get worse. Refer back to tip two.

13. Get hopeful. This is because you have to – what’s the alternative? You’re not the only one who didn’t get that internship or won’t get the first they wanted, and this does not mean that you’ve failed at life. Focus on you.

14. Keep focusing on you. The most important part of university is to get out of it alive. Drink water. Get some sleep. Talk to someone when you need help. You’ve got this.

Gatlin Perrin is a North Walian writer who pens books for children and scripts that are not for children. Their play Bear Hands was featured digitally at the Edinburgh Fringe, and their children’s novel His Royal Hopeless is out September 2nd 2021 under the pen name Chloë Perrin. Gatlin likes to think they can do it all, which is probably why they’re in therapy.

Working in a Supermarket During Lockdown

by Lucy Parish

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I got the text asking me to come back to work almost straight after I had to leave my university accommodation.

My first shift was mere days after Boris Johnson’s lockdown speech (despite his apprehension to use the word lockdown) and I saw small changes quickly ricochet through the store that I’ve worked at now for almost four years.

I noted that the colossal neon green sign now looms menacingly over the line outside, which trails back further than the naked eye can see. Customers rattle their silver trolleys impatiently, keeping two meters away from the person ahead. I sigh.

A week passes, and flimsy PVC screens go up, forming a barrier between me and the customers. Hastily laminated signs appear on the staff room door letting us know face masks are available in the office if we need them. I don’t take one.

Now as I walk through the store, customers freeze when they see me, standing back to let me pass. It’s abnormal and I can’t help feeling as though I have the plague. I saw two people with gas masks on yesterday, actual gas masks. The flashbacks I got to that Doctor Who episode were rather jarring.

Customers can only buy three of one item per household, but I must admit, denying an old man his fourth Twix bar won’t be a high point of my life. Despite this, my hand hovers steadily over the security button each time someone tries to argue about how much they desperately need four two-litre water bottles rather than three.

It’s been two weeks now, and arrows have been stickered on the floor mapping out the safest route through the store. They’re adhered to for the most part. I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve been told to ‘keep safe’ and ‘thank you for what you’re doing’ as it was reaching the seventy thousand mark. I hear rumours about colleagues being coughed on, and xenophobic name-calling, and my mind boggles how the culprits have managed to get so far in life.

I keep seeing discarded gloves on the floor and in trolleys outside the store, and it’s proving very difficult to keep my cool.

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Four weeks have passed now, and we’re nearing the end of April. Easter has come and gone and the majority of the chocolate eggs have been reduced to 50p. The line outside is just as long. I miss hugs and talking in person with my nan.

If one more person asks when we’re getting more flour, I might have to quit.

At five and a half weeks, restrictions on items have lifted. Other things are changing too. It seems more people are paying with cash than ever before, with almost every person managing to make contact with my hand as they pass the money over. Someone actually licked their fingers to gain traction on a twenty-pound note before handing it to me yesterday, I couldn’t hide my disgust. The now scuffed arrows stickered on the floor are promptly ignored and are a laughing point when people arrive at my checkout. I don’t laugh with them.

Seeing the same people every week is slowly getting to me, leading me to the realisation that I’ve taken social interaction for granted my entire life.

During the sixth week, my mum offers to pick me up but I politely decline and walk home in the stifling heat. I pass a shirtless man wearing a face mask.

People are no longer moving out of the way when I get close, unless I tell them to. Occasionally I’m put on self-scan (with the machines that protest that there is nothing in the bagging area, when in fact there is), and it’s almost as if we’re not in lockdown. A man actually touched my shoulder as I was swiping my card to approve his alcohol today. I was rendered speechless.

The eighth week is here, or maybe the ninth, the weeks are starting to blur – or perhaps that happened a while ago. Lockdown is beginning to ease or so it seems. I dream about Prezzo, and TikTok.

I also stop social distancing, admitting a sort of defeat. I dart past people down aisles and sidestep trolleys, embracing this new normal.

No one talks about lockdown at work anymore, it’s just there, lurking.

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Lucy Parish is a first year Creative Writing student at Brunel University London. When she’s not working in a supermarket, she loves to read, write, and cuddle her dog.

Nest: A Covid-19 Easter Mini-Saga

by Emma Filtness

Screenshot 2020-04-16 at 17.13.31

Friday

I sit on the green velvet couch in my third floor flat staring out of the closed door to my Juliet balcony, sweltering in the sky-blue heat, and I’ve got no idea why they call it a balcony when it’s just a door that opens onto fresh air mediated by a grey metal railing overlooking the faded tarmac of a car park and the ugly Tetris-piled red brick of the building next door and I think surely Juliet must’ve had better than this as I clutch a navy can of fly and wasp killer, knuckles white, lid off and in a perpetual “position of readiness,” to quote my secondary school PE teacher, Ms Rugg (I wonder what became of her) during enforced netball training thinking they didn’t teach me this, they didn’t prepare me for this, there wasn’t a class on how to deal with wasps building a nest above the door to an invisible balcony during a pandemic and I’ve been googling all morning, clicking on hit after hit of perfect nightmare material – stalker-lens close-ups of antennae and all those legs and stripes and stingers that can be used again and again unlike bees, I wish they were bees, and pictures of round grey nests that look like paper mâché creations from a hell-dimension, and home-remedies offering wisdom like spray surfaces with peppermint oil or a mixture of clove oil and lemongrass and I haven’t even got a spray-bottle let alone the peppermint oil, only lavender and frankincense for my oil burner but there’s no scientific evidence so I panic-order two kinds of wasp killer with Prime with a dose of extremely short-lived vegetarian guilt and after check-out it tells me they won’t be here for another week as apparently they’re not “essential” and the property management team are not answering their phones as it’s not only a pandemic but a fucking bank holiday and no amount of Easter eggs will ever make this okay.

Saturday

I binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning in an attempt to distract myself from the hive. I somehow managed to forget just how amazing Sandra Oh’s hair is, and the rest of her, to be honest, and think I finally need to watch Killing Eve soon. I’d be under the duvet ideally, but it’s too hot what with the door and window closed and the evil little shits keep nosing at the window. When I turn off the lights to sleep, I see tiny flitting shadows everywhere, but I know they are not in my room – they are inside my head. I dream of wasps, obviously.

Sunday

My partner bought me a chocolate egg, a posh one from M&S, but I managed to drop it somewhere between the bag-for-life and the kitchen worktop, and it feels like the perfect metaphor for life this Spring. I eat most of my stoved-in egg anyway and feel sick afterwards.

Monday

Brian from Rentokil called. He’s coming over tomorrow. I eat the last of my egg and a whole bag of Colin the Caterpillars. I’m on Season Two already (which is impressive, even for me).

Tuesday

Brian from Rentokil arrived a whole hour early and I could’ve kissed him, social distancing be damned (relax, I didn’t).

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meDr Emma Filtness is a poet and lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University London, currently zine-making and binge-watching her way through the apocalypse. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Filtness and find her poetry project exploring nature and the dark feminine @cultofflora on Instagram.

Brunel Creative Writing students win 1st Prizes in short story competitions

1st Prize Winner R.V. Maloney. Source: http://www.dorsetfictionaward.co.uk/uploads/1/0/2/0/102049858/published/shortlisteepicture_1.jpg
Dorset Fiction 1st Prize Winner R.V. Maloney

Congratulations to 2nd year Brunel University London Creative Writing student R.V. Maloney, who was awarded  1st place in the international Dorset Fiction competition for her short story ‘The Greater Crested Tern’.

R.V. wrote the story following her weekly Creative Writing coursework prompts. She will be awarded a £500 cash prize, and her story will be featured in Dorset Fiction’s yearly anthology.

The judges said, “Within a thousand words, the story is threaded with blooming motifs and detail which are in turn sewn in to a wonderfully metaphysical piece. The writer uses an interesting range of sometimes obfuscated literary devices, which bed well into the prose. The creative and multilevelled story instantly caught our attention, and continued to blossom in our minds long after reading.”

Check out an interview with the author, and read her award-winning story, at the Dorset Fiction Award website.

Photo Credit: Scarlet Page / Henley Literary Festival
Photo Credit: Scarlet Page / Henley Literary Festival

Joint Honours Games Design and Creative Writing graduate Aimée White was awarded First Prize in the 2017 Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition.

Aimée’s winning story ‘Generation Lotus’ was written to the contest theme of Journey and was selected by a panel of judges including comedian/writer Helen Lederer, journalist and novelist Paula Cocozza, and Daily Mail Literary Editor Sandra ParsonsAimée’s impressive £1500 1st Prize in the Main contest category was announced at an Awards Ceremony at Henley Literary Festival.

You can view all the 2017 Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition winners and runners up in the Main and Children’s categories here.

 

Calling all budding designers: Book Cover Design Competition #Horror #SciFi #Fantasy

Book Cover Design Competition
Horror, Sci-fi & Fantasy

Brunel University London’s English & Creative Writing department is developing its first ever Horror, Science-fiction & Fantasy anthology entitled:

‘FAERIES, FIENDS & FLYING SAUCERS’

The anthology features a range of English & Creative Writing students’ short stories and non-fiction writing and launches on the 21st of March 2017.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Brunel University London Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book (paperback & ebook) you can win 10 paperback copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes three distinct genres –
Horror
Science fiction
Fantasy
– as the title suggests. So let your imagination run wild!

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .tif/.jpg format OR vector eps format.
  • Size: A5 (148x210mm) plus a spine on the left (17x210mm).
  • Please keep back-up copies of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited.

Entries must be submitted by:
Friday 3rd of February
by 5pm

to Mr Frazer Lee via email (frazer.lee@brunel.ac.uk)
AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell Building reception.

Good luck & happy designing!

 

Don’t miss: Hillingdon Literary Festival

image002When: 7th-9th October 2016

Where: Antonin Artaud Building, Brunel University

What: A FREE weekend of literary performances from over twenty-five bestselling and globally renowned authors with a lively festival atmosphere.

The festival will be home to  vibrant conversations, inspiring readings, book signings, masterclasses and workshops. Some of the author highlights this year include:

Amit Chaudhuri – Celebrated novelist, critic and musician, author of Oysseus Abroad

Samantha Shannon – Internationally bestselling author of The Bone Season series.

Will Self – Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel University London; journalist, political commentator, literary critic; author.

Ken Livingstone – Prominent Labour Party member, former Mayor of London, author of Being Red: A Politics for the Future.

Benjamin Zephaniah –World-renowned performance poet, activist and commentator; Professor in Creative Writing at Brunel University London.

Matt Haig – British novelist. His book Reasons to Stay Alive, a memoir about the author’s experience with depression, has been chosen as a World Book Night 2016 book.

Shappi Khorsandi – Author and comedian who has appeared on Channel 4’s Comedy Gala and Sport Relief. Her debut novel is Nina is Not Ok.

This year’s Hillingdon Literary festival also features its first communitysam_1204-768x576 writing competition, with shortlisted entries published in an anthology ‘Writing Local|Thinking Global‘ and an overall winner of £250 to be announced at the event. Several of our Brunel Creative Writers are on the list so come along to support them and read their work!

All events are free, but “Weekend Ticket” reservation via the website is strongly recommended, as tickets are selling out quickly! 

More info & tickets @ www.HillingdonLiteraryFestival.com

Screening: Xiaolu Guo’s UFO IN HER EYES

What: Screening and Q&A

When: Tuesday 24th May at 5-8pm

Where: Antonin Artaud 003

As part of next week’s Brunel Festival (http://www.brunelfestival.co.uk) there will be a free screening of  Xialou Guo’s ‘UFO in Her Eyes’, a feature film about a peasant woman in a Chinese village who claims that she has seen a UFO. As a result everything in her life and that of her community undergoes a tremendous transformation. The film explores identity, feminism and globalisation.

Xiaolu Guo has created a vocabulary of her own, both visual and linguistic, that reflects her sense of bXiaolu Guoeing caught between Chinese and English, and her experience growing up during her home country’s wild transition from totalitarian enclave to the new shrine of global capitalism. An “alien” at home and in the global intellectual elite, Guo is an ideal interpreter of the sense of alienation generated by social upheaval and globalization“- Toronto Film Festival, 2011

Xiaolu Guo wrote the novel, script and directed the film and will available for a Q & A session after the screening; a great opportunity to pick an acclaimed novelist and scriptwriter’s brains, as well as see an award winning film. Don’t miss it!

“UFO in her Eyes is surrealist and ironic, but also pierced with melancholy and beau­tiful photography. With startling detail, Guo reshapes reality into a hyper-vivid portrait of chaotic contemporary Chinese society.” – Toronto Film Festival

 To learn more about the author: http://www.guoxiaolu.com/index.htm.

 

 

Calling all budding designers: Cover Design Competition

The Creative Writing department are currently beginning the exciting process of developing this years anthology ‘The Imagination Project’ which features a range of second and third year students’ stories. The anthology launches on the 15th of March 2016.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book, you can win a £50 Amazon voucher and 10 copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes a diverse range of work so, as the title suggests, let your imagination run wild!

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .tif/.jpg format OR vector eps format.
  • Size: A5 (148x210mm) plus a spine on the left (17x210mm).
  • Please keep a copy of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited

And must be submitted by Monday 15th of February at 5pm to Dr Bernadine Evaristo via email (Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk) AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell reception.

For further information on what your submission must include please check out the link: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/cbass/arts-humanities/creative-writing/creative-writing-anthology-competition/_nocache

Good luck & happy designing!

Dear Freshers,

Congratulations on your fantastic A level results, they are well deserved.

congratulations

It’s not long now until you’ll set foot on Brunel’s campus as an official student, but until then, you have the a few weeks where you’re likely to feel nervous and excited all at once. Here are a few things to bare in mind during your fresher’s experience.

freshers

1. You’re only a fresher once. I mean it lasts a whole year but that’s no excuse to rest on your laurels! Now, fresher’s week, and uni in general is what you make it, so if you want good grades you have to work for them, but during your freshers year it really doesn’t hurt to go a little bit wild. Of course, don’t take ‘go a little bit wild’ as an excuse to get arrested or hurt anyone, I mean just have fun, but stay safe. Definitely stay safe.

2. You’ll make really great friends. This is something that will happen really quickly, especially if you’re living on campus because you’re all in the same boat. You’re all away from home, all with people you don’t know and possibly wouldn’t even mingle with normally, but there’s something about halls that means you’ll have at least one good friend in there. On the first day I moved in, I was very shy and nervous, but as soon as I said hi to a couple of people I felt fine. Everyone’s going to be friendly for the first couple of weeks, and if at any point people stop being friendly/ sociable, you’ll have met the people on your course by then, and they will be great.

3. Sometimes in halls people can be noisy. This is something that you kind of have to roll with. During the day you probably won’t notice it so much because you’ll have music on, or you’ll be out or there will be that general hum of day to day life. However, (and I was very lucky with my whole building) there will be some noisier individuals. If you’re a light sleeper, I would recommend ear plugs. If you get the foamy ones you can still hear fire alarms through them so they’re okay in terms of your safety as well.

4. With that said, fire alarms happen. This is one of the least fun things that happen while you’re living in halls, and I’m not speaking from a noise perspective. In my halls, we had four fire alarms. Three were at night, while it was raining, while I was not wearing shoes. Once someone shared their slippers with me. That is as strange as it sounds. They aren’t entirely unpleasant though, I mean the whole building is outside so you can socialise for a bit. One tip though – if there is a fire alarm in the afternoon, make sure it goes on for longer than about 30 seconds because they test the fire alarms once a week, and I knew a few people who got half way down the stairs in towels after being caught in the shower…

5. Socialise. What I will start off by saying is that I came to Brunel being very shy and socially awkward, I didn’t know what to say to people, and I always assumed they wouldn’t like me anyway. That made socialising more difficult, but then there came a point where I relaxed and realised that at uni, there are very few people who really judge you, and those who do aren’t worth your time anyway. The people who do accept you and who you do get along with are worth your time and are worth socialising with. There were so many times in first year when we’d stay up all night watching films as a flat rather than going out and they were some of my absoluter favourite times and some of my best memories. Being social will do wonders for your sanity, trust me.

6. There’s more than one way to be social. Don’t think that when I say ‘socialise’ I mean go out every night and consume copious amounts of alcohol if that’s not what you want to do. If it is, fine. If not, get your flat mates together to watch a film, walk to town, join all the societies and sports teams you want to. Basically fill up your time with lots of different things and lots of different people. If sport isn’t your thing, there are so many societies, there will be one that is your thing.

7. If there isn’t a society you like, make one. It’s actually pretty easy to get a society together, if you’ve got a handful of people with similar interests and time and energy to put into it, you could have yourself a successful little society.

8. Don’t worry. Your first year of uni is about fun, and it’s about finding yourself. As cliché and wishy washy as that may sound, it’s true. So don’t worry. Of course put the work in, you got this far and let’s be honest, you’re paying for this, so definitely put the work into this. What I mean is don’t burn yourself out in your first year. Of course you want to be proud of yourself, of course you want your parents/friends/family to be proud of you, that’s natural, but burning out won’t do anyone any good. Leave that for third year when the end will be in sight.
9. Sometimes there might be pranks and practical jokes. That’s fine and it’s all fun and game but make sure A. you don’t take it too far. It’s not a joke if someone gets hurt, and B. don’t let security catch you – always have a lookout.
I could go on for ages about how great Brunel is and how much I’m sure you’ll love it here, but you’ve got some celebrating to do! Huge congratulations to you all, once again. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to tweet @BrunelWriter for things related to the course, or tweet me personally @EmphaticPanda, and I will be happy to answer any questions about anything Brunel/freshers/uni related.
In case you’re in need of it, or know anyone who is, here’s the clearing hotline for Brunel university – 01895 272273, and the webpage, should you need further information. Best of luck! http://www.brunel.ac.uk/clearing-adjustment-courses-2014 
We look forward to seeing you around campus in a months time!